Daffodils

October 6, 2016 Daffodils (a play with songs) has been praised to our Kiwi skies since its opening night in 2014 – “near-iconic New Zealand theatre”, “a fully-fledged wonder”, “essential viewing”,  “genius” – so the bar was set pretty high on my expectations for a good night out, tempered slightly by a cynical niggle that…

Mikelangelo & the Black Sea Gentlemen

October 7, 2016 Last night’s performance by Mikelangelo and the Black Sea Gentlemen was close to a kind of communal ecstasy – I don’t think I’ve ever seen our festival crowd quite so giddy and exuberant as with this sublime blend of the absurd, even downright silly, and the exquisite, melancholy ache of the minor…

Mike Noke Trio

October 8, 2016 I’m not a jazz aficionado so I won’t attempt to pick apart the smooth, masterful playing of these world-class musicians, so tightly together and inspired they could stage something they’d never done before: play electric for the festival instead of their usual acoustic, swap the grand piano for two keyboards, an array…

Dido & Aeneas

October 8, 2016 Project Prima Volta is a Hawke’s Bay creative arts mentoring programme, which each year gives 30 local teenagers from diverse backgrounds the opportunity to work together in the world of vocal performance alongside homegrown and international performers. This was their show, wonderfully presented at the fabulous new Blyth Performing Arts Centre to…

Songs for the Fallen

October 9, 2016 A frisson of electricity flickered around the newest incarnation of the Spiegeltent in anticipation of Saturday night’s performance. The poster child for the Arts Festival, this sell out show promised to be a riotous celebration of life, and did not disappoint. From the moment writer and leading lady Sheridan Harbridge took to…

The White Guitar

October 9, 2016 I sat down with my brother, Gus, this morning to grill him on last night’s raw family drama, The White Guitar, performed to a standing ovation by hip-hop artist Scribe, his brother Matthias Luafutu and father John at the Napier Municipal Theatre. This was Gus’s experience: I haven’t really seen something before…

The Cube

October 11, 2016 “Is it real?” you will ask yourself and you will attempt to discover the truth as if such a thing can be sought and found. Even the set-up is slightly sinister, like walking in on a Kafka novel. A shipping container parked at the edge of the Hastings mall and strangers quietly…

Hinepau

October 12, 2016 This enchanting stage adaptation of Gavin Bishop’s picture book has to be one of my festival favourites – such a feast for the eyes, ears and heart. Produced by NZ theatre company, Capital E, this contemporary Māori story is sprinkled with local language puns and gentle cultural jokes, while addressing universal issues…

Triumphs and Other Alternatives

October 13, 2016 How do I even begin writing about this incredible “physical movement theatre”, that left me perplexed, astonished and moved in ways that are impossible to articulate? As a spectator, watching this gutsy, performative artwork, its discordant moments of discomfort, glee and beauty, was a visceral experience that resonated in a more primal…